"You are tearing me apart, Lisa!"—Johnny
The Room's fame rests on its apparently abysmal quality.—Justice Markus Koehnen, in his 2017 judgment overturning an injunction against the documentary Room Full of Spoons
The Room is a very strange 2003 film by an unlikely filmmaker named Tommy Wiseau. It is ostensibly about a man, Johnny, played by Wiseau, tortured by the betrayal of his fiancée Lisa and his best friend, Mark, who are having an affair together.
It was made on a budget of $6 million, even though you'd never know it. The only real locales are the eponymous room, a different room, and a rooftop, punctuated with Stock Footage establishing shots of San Francisco just to spice things up.
A lion's share of the money went into the production itself, as Wiseau decided to shoot the film in both 35 mm film and HD video side-by-side. The film was theatrically released only in Los Angeles. It was advertised by a vague billboard consisting entirely of Wiseau's face staring down at visitors in the area.
The Room continues to be screened in L.A. and other cities, becoming a cult phenomenon of sorts. Showings include interactive affairs à la The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which are often accompanied with guests throwing plastic spoons at the film (which has a recurring spoon motif), blurting the film's dialogue back at the characters, tossing footballs (themes of touch football are explored in the film) and dressing up as their favorite character.
It was exposed to a national audience for the first time on Adult Swim on April Fools' Day, 2009. Tommy Wiseau was also the focus of a Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! episode which aired immediately after the 2009 showing, causing Adult Swim fans to refer to it as The Tim and Eric Movie. A Riff Trax commentary for the film was released in 2009.
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- Adaptation Expansion: The Screen to Stage Adaptation, which adds new characters (Travis, Claudette's lover, and Scott, Denny's friend), and a few improvised scenes. Tommy Wiseau says that the play is canon to the mythology of The Room.
- April Fools' Day: Adult Swim has this as a prank sometimes. But during a twist in the latest prank..
- Ambiguous Disorder: Denny in seems completely ignorant of social norms and generally acts much younger than his apparent age, at one point leaping into bed with Johnny and Lisa as they are about to have sex. In an interview, director Tommy Wiseau admitted that Denny is "retarded, a little bit," but the actor was never informed of this.
- Anger Montage: Quite possibly one of the wimpiest, most half-hearted Anger Montages in the history of film, right at the end, culminating with Johnny tossing a television set through his window. It's especially silly because, in many ways, the scene mirrors a similar scene from Citizen Kane. It's just... not done quite as well.
- Angrish: During his Anger Montage, Johnny screams like this.
- Ask a Stupid Question: Lisa and Mark are really fond of this.
- Ate His Gun: Johnny ends up doing this at the end of the movie.
- Audience Participation: At Rocky Horror Picture Show-style screenings, audiences are actively encouraged to vocally express their abject revulsion, even by Wiseau himself. This includes hurling of plastic spoons and impromptu games of football starting in the aisles each time a similarly incomprehensible football game starts on screen.
- Author Appeal:
- Tommy Wiseau enjoys Cinemax-style love scenes set to cheesy R&B, as there are several.
- Specifically, according to others involved in the movie, Tommy Wiseau enjoyed scenes of himself making out and being in bed with women much younger and much more attractive than himself.
- When asked in the DVD director's interview why there are so many scenes of characters playing catch with a football, Wiseau simply responds that football is fun.
- Tommy Wiseau enjoys Cinemax-style love scenes set to cheesy R&B, as there are several.
- Author Tract: Cast members have alleged that Lisa represents what Wiseau thinks of women.
Mark: Oh man, I just can't figure women out. Sometimes they're just too smart. Sometimes they're just flat-out stupid. Other times they're just evil.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lisa. As the movie goes on it's implied that this is the result of Claudette's parental advice, which becomes increasingly amoral throughout the film. At one point Peter suspects that she's a sociopath of some form.
- Body Horror: Lisa's neck.
- Busman's Holiday: Peter the psychologist. He is always playing psychologist.
- Captain Obvious Aesop: Wiseau claims the message of the film is "If a lot of people love each other, the world would be a better place to live."
- Considering he says this in the context of Denny confessing his love for Lisa, its also a Broken Aesop.
- Catch Phrase: One of the film's major themes is the constant repetition of a certain few lines of dialogue by various characters. They include:
- "O hai, X!" This is used by all characters, and in such a way that they all seem constantly surprised to see each other.
- "Everything will be fine" and "Don't worry about it." For some reason, no one really wants to confront the seriousness of anything that's going on in the story, from doomed marriages to cancer.
- "It's an awkward situation."
- Various characters state that Mark is Johnny's best friend.
- Johnny is a wonderful person.
- Various characters remark that Lisa is so beautiful.
- "[She is/You are] my future wife."
- "Thaatz the eyedeeah!" Wiseau loves saying this in his trademark heavy accent.
- "You owe me one."
- "Let's go home."
- "I don't wanna talk about it."
- Mark repeats "What's going on?" every time Lisa tries to sleep with him.
- Character Development: Mostly averted. The only characters who change during the film are Denny, who comes to terms with his feelings for Lisa via a "heartfelt" conversation with Johnny, and Lisa herself, who becomes more and more unpleasant as time goes on, eventually flaunting her affair and making up a pregnancy to needle Johnny. Mark shaves his beard at one point, and the same amount of attention is paid to this as many an Important Haircut...but it doesn't mean anything. At. All.
- Chekhov's Gun: The gun that Mark takes off Chris-R somehow winds up in Johnny's possession.
- Also the tape recorder Johnny attaches to his phone.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Chris-R, who wants his fucking money right now, not in five fucking minutes, or else Denny is fucking dead.
- Coitus Ensues: Four times, plus the chocolate session.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Mark once knew this girl who had a dozen guys...
Mark: One of them found out about it... beat her up so bad she ended up at a hospital on Guerrero Street.
Johnny: Ha ha ha. What a story, Mark.
- Comically Missing the Point: Johnny manages to take so long to work out Mark and Lisa are having an affair that even when he walks in on them slow dancing and stroking each other he still doesn't get it straight away.
Mark: I have a girl, I mean, she's very attractive, she's getting married, it's driving me crazy.
Johnny: Can I meet her?
Mark: I don't think so. It's... it's an awkward situation.
Johnny: You mean she's too old, or you think I will take her away from you?
- Death of the Hypotenuse: Johnny kills himself.
Lisa: I lost him, but I still have you, right? Right?
Mark: You don't have me! You'll NEVER have me!
- Despair Event Horizon: "Everybody betray me. I fed up with this wirruld."
- Double Standard: Mark continually blames Lisa for seducing him and betraying his best friend Johnny.
- Downer Ending: Johnny discovers Lisa's affair, ransacks his own apartment and kills himself. The film ends with Lisa, Mark, and Denny variously crying and screaming at each other. And we assume that Denny and Lisa are both doomed because Johnny was paying all of their bills.
- Dramatic Irony: Johnny kindly (and very suddenly) sets aside his anger over Lisa's false accusation of domestic violence to lend a sympathetic ear to Mark as he talks about his girl problems. Johnny hasn't a clue that the girl Mark mentions he's seeing is Lisa.
- Driven to Suicide: Johnny kills himself because Lisa has been horrible to him but is still relying on him for cash, whilst cheating on him with his best friend. He finds all this out on his BIRTHDAY!.
- Drugs Are Bad: Denny almost got killed by Chris-R because of his "drug money". Later, Mark attempted to kill Peter while high on marijuana.
- Dull Surprise: "O hai, (fill in the name)!"
- Easily Forgiven: Mark nearly shoves Peter over the edge of the roof and is forgiven almost instantly.
- Everything's Better with Chocolate: "Did you, uh, know that chocolate is the symbol of love".
- Evil Matriarch: Lisa's mother guiltlessly, but only occasionally, insists that Lisa take advantage of Johnny for financial reasons, as she seems to have done with her previous husbands. She gets in on the action by trying to bilk the down payment on a house out of Johnny. She has a tendency to touch her finger to Lisa's nose in an awkward facsimile of maternal tenderness.
- For the Evulz: Lisa is originally just interested in Johnny's cash, but after a while she starts to flaunt her affair with Mark, and lies to Johnny about being pregnant just to make things interesting.
- Funny Foreigner: Johnny, and Tommy Wiseau himself, unintentionally. Obscurus Lupa described Wiseau as "the French Borat, if he didn't know he was the French Borat", while IFC.com described his voice in the film as "Borat trying to do an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mental patient."
- Gangsta Style: Like any good movie gangsta, Chris-R holds his gun sideways.
- Gargle Blaster: Half scotch, half vodka, served neat. Scotchka!
- Get Out!:
Johnny to Mark: "Don't touch me, mothafawker. Get out!"
- And then after Lisa is gone: "Get out. Get out! GET OUT OFF MY LIIIIIFE!"
- Hammerspace: Continuity problems often cause characters to suddenly gain and lose objects between cuts.
- Denny loses his apple after walking up the stairs to jump on Johnny's and Lisa's bed.
Bill (as Denny): I just ate an entire apple! Even the core!
- Lisa suddenly produces a vase for Johnny's flowers.
- After overhearing Lisa tell her mother about her affair, Johnny walks immediately over to his phone and sets down a tape recorder he wasn't carrying so he can hook it up to the phone.
- Happy Birthday to You: This otherwise low budget movie apparently sprang for the rights to use this song. Wasteful spending like this goes to show why the film doesn't show anywhere near its $6 million budget.
- Heel Face Revolving Door: Mark and Lisa keep seeming to change between intended sympathetic characters and Jerkasses, Lisa in particular. Also, Lisa' friend Michelle. Is she supportive of Lisa cheating on Johnny or not? Make up your mind, Wiseau!
- Hollywood Sex: During the first sex scene, Johnny is so high up on Lisa it looks as though he is having sex with her belly button.
- The Hyena: Johnny.
- Hypocritical Humor: "I cannot tell you, it's confidential. Anyway, how is your sex life?"
- I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: It's easier to identify the main character as Tommy Wiseau rather than "Johnny."
- I Have This Friend: Invoked verbatim by Mark during this rooftop scene with Johnny about infidelity.
- I'll Kill You!: "I KILL YOU I BREAK EVERY BONE IN YOUR BODY! I KILL YOU YOU BASTURD!"
- Important Haircut: Some attention is given to Mark shaving his beard off partway through the film, although it's not at all clear what, if anything, this is supposed to signify.
- Informed Ability:
- Johnny is supposed to be an excellent banker, despite his limited English and vampiric appearance.
- Lisa says she's in "the computer business", whatever that means, but is never shown doing anything resembling work. On the other hand, she's also supposedly unable to support herself.
- Informed Attractiveness: Lisa is frequently referred to as being beautiful and sexy. Most fans think she doesn't quite live up the praise (and honestly, her personality doesn't help). She's not unattractive at all, its that the movie goes on and on about how beautiful and sexy she is with almost every male character making a remark about it. This is particularly hilarious at the party, when a nameless character comments that "Lisa looks hot tonight." This is his only line in the entire film, except yelling "Surprise!" in unison with everyone else when Johnny comes home.
- Apparently a dozen or so Lisas filmed scenes before either being fired by Wiseau or quitting in disgust, so the lines referring to her beauty may have stayed the same while the appearance of the character changed.
- The makeup doesn't help.
- Ironic Echo: "You just a chicken. CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!"
- I Take Offense to That Last One: An indirect example.
Lisa: Johnny got drunk last night, and he hit me.
Claudette: Johnny doesn't drink!
- Karma Houdini: For some reason, Mark is blameless when Lisa cheats on Johnny with him -- all four times. When Johnny commits suicide, Mark is indignant at her. It takes two to tango, and he tangoed four times knowingly with his best friend's steady girlfriend and fiancée.
- Kubrick Stare: The official poster. The fact Wiseau is slightly cross-eyed makes it less than threatening, though still kind of creepy.
- Kudzu Plot
- Large Ham: Tommy Wiseau actually manages to combine this with Dull Surprise.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- Probably unintentionally. When Claudette discovers Mike and Michelle, who are introduced as they inexplicably come into the apartment to make out and eat chocolate, she asks, "What are these characters doing here?" The audience is probably wondering the exact same thing.
- In a more literal example, when Johnny knocks over a picture frame in the movie's final scenes, it falls toward the screen and lands on the camera.
- Limited Social Circle: Averted, hilariously. See Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
- Looping Lines: Constantly. Most of Johnny's dialogue was obviously dubbed over in post. This may explain some of his more notorious line readings.
- Melodrama: Ostensibly, although in spite of all the terrible things in the film, such as drug addiction, cancer and infidelity, it's only at the end that anyone seems really bothered by anything that's happened.
- The Messiah: Johnny pays Denny's tuition and rent, lavishes his girlfriend with gifts, brings in lots of clients to his bank, and just cares so much about everybody. Everyone praises Johnny, even those who betray him.
- Milking the Giant Cow: Truly wild example - "You are tearing me apart, Lisa!"
- Mood Whiplash: Thanks to Wiseau's dialogue and direction, viewers are never sure where a scene is going. The best example of this is: "I did not hit her! It's not true! It's bullshit, I did not hit her! I did NAAHHT!... Oh, hi Mark"
- Mr. Fanservice: Greg Sestero is called "Sestosterone" for a reason. He is - let's face it - a very handsome man.
- No wonder he worked as a model for Gucci and Ferré before starting his acting career.
- Nippled and Dimed: Shockingly averted, there's quite a few lingering shots of Lisa's breasts, including the nipples.
- Nobody Calls Me Chicken: "You're just a chicken! Cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheeeeep"
- Non-Indicative Name: The Room. Despite the title, the characters are neither trapped in a room nor is there anything particularly strange about their apartment.
- Non Sequitur:
- "Anyway, how is your sex life?"
- "I definitely have breast cancer."
- "Yeah, I'm thinking of moving into a bigger place, man. I'm making some good money."
- Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: It's suggested Johnny works in a bank. Also Lisa is in "the computer industry" which could mean anything.
- All we learn about Mark's job is that he's making some good money (see above). The first time Lisa calls him, he says he's busy, though whether that has anything to do with his job is ambiguous. Especially as when he says this, he's sitting in a parked car, in casual dress.
- Oblivious to Love: You'd think that Mark would sort of get the hint as to what Lisa wants from him the third time he is unwittingly seduced by her.
- One-Hour Work Week: Johnny comes from work, then apparently never goes back again, given that he spends day after day playing with Mark and Denny.
- One-Scene Wonder: Chris-R. He's not the only one, though. Characters drift in and out of the film like a fever dream.
- One Steve Limit: Just an odd example of laziness: the couple found having sex in the apartment are "Mike" and "Michelle", which are the same name, just masculine and feminine.
- Only One Name: Everybody. There are no last names in the whole film.
- Only Sane Man: Peter is the only one who hesitates to play football in a tuxedo. Rather appropriately, the character vanishes right after that scene because the actor quit.
- Parody Retcon: The director and star claimed his film was actually a "Black Comedy" after it became the So Bad It's Good hit of 2003. Trailers were even hastily edited to reflect this. No one was fooled, except maybe Wiseau. The rest of the cast and the script supervisor knew exactly what they were making.
- Passed Over Promotion: Johnny's failure to be promoted can be interpreted as what inspires Lisa to begin the affair in earnest.
- Please Wake Up: Denny says this to Johnny, after his suicide.
- Plot Hole: How does Johnny know that Lisa told her Mom he hit her? The Other Wiki has more examples.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Denny seems to be hinted as being one, with his creepy fascination with Lisa and his affinity for "watching" Lisa and Johnny. However, his strange personality never pans into anything.
- Through much of the film, it feels like Denny's part had been written for someone much younger than the actor playing him.
- Random Events Plot
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mark and Johnny in one of the rooftop scenes, though this was almost certainly unintentional. It's also inverted, as Mark (wearing a red T-shirt) is considerably calmer than Johnny (wearing a blue jacket) during this scene.
- Rooftop Confrontation
- Screen to Stage Adaptation: There have been several, but the "official" adaptation is The Room: Live, in which Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero reprise their roles from the film.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Out-of-universe example. Greg Sestero revealed in his book that once he got SAG membership, Tommy wanted it too... but the minimum for SAG membership is a speaking role in a commercial. So Tommy made a commercial for a property he owned, cast himself in it, and paid to have it aired. He essentially bought himself a SAG membership. Sestero mused that the SAG must have been scrambling to find some sort of way to reject him based on this loophole, but couldn't manage to.
- Shaggy Dog Story
- Johnny's "Why, Lisa?" tantrum is a direct reference to the similar (but rather better) scene in Citizen Kane.
- "You are tearing me APART!" is a reference to Rebel Without a Cause, of all things.
- Some people believe that the 'I feel like I'm sitting on an atomic bomb' line is a shout out to the famous sequence in Dr. Strangelove.
- Sir Swearsalot: Chris-R.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The name's "Denny", not "Danny".
- Spin-Off: Tommy Wiseau plans on creating a novelization of The Room. There's already a Flash game tribute (see below).
- Stock Footage: They used clips of the first sex scene in the second sex scene. Allegedly, the actress playing Lisa refused to let Tommy Wiseau near her to film another one. Which makes sense.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A particularly lazy example. The actor playing Peter the psychiatrist got fed up and quit, so Wiseau went out and cast a new actor to play Peter, then changed the name of the character to Steven, then ditched the suit-and-glasses look for the character so that Steven becomes a random friend who shows up for the last 19 minutes of the movie with no introduction and delivers an impassioned, if hammy, performance as though he's already deeply invested in what's going on. It probably would have made more sense to give those lines to an already-established character, such as Mike.
Mike Nelson: You just walked in and started acting didn't you . . .
- The flash game mocks this by having Peter get run over on the way to the party by Chris-R, having just carjacked Johnny.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: During Mark's "do you think girls have affairs" dialog with Johnny, it's painfully obvious that Mark is asking Johnny if he knows his girlfriend is having an affair with him. He denies it has anything to do with himself and is just about "a friend".
- Tantrum Throwing: That poor television set...
- Tempting Fate: "I'm so happy I have you as my best friend. And I love Lisa so much."
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: "You're tearing me apart, Lisa!"
- The Topic of Cancer: Lisa's mother brings up her cancer once. No one ever speaks of it again.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: "In a few minutes, bitch!" said by Johnny while weeping in the bathroom.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: "I fed up with this WARULD!"
- Took the Bad Film Seriously: A surprising number of the people in this movie were actually taking it seriously, since it was the first (and only) acting job they'd been able to get in Hollywood. Of course, by the end, no one who'd seen more than a few scenes of Wiseau's acting was really doing anything but trying to get through it and meet their professional commitments.
- Special mention goes to the guy who played Chris-R. Despite not being a professional actor, he was apparently extremely psyched to be asked to be in a movie, and took his role and scenes very seriously.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Future Wife: Johnny and Lisa.
- Unexplained Accent: Johnny has a thick accent, vaguely French or Eastern European, yet no one ever mentions it or where Johnny came from. The closest Johnny comes is recalling when he arrived in San Francisco. The accent is unexplained in real life too. Wiseau makes contradictory claims to be from either France or New Orleans, though the letter W is fairly uncommon in the French language so it's unlikely that Wiseau is a real French name. It seems more like a bad approximation of the word "Oiseau" ("bird" in French).
- The Unfair Sex: Lisa tells everybody about her affair except Johnny and frequently laughs or acts cavalier about it. Those who aren't told figure it out. Somewhat inverted though in that almost everyone accepts that the affair was entirely Lisa's fault. Mark, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with it.
- Updated Rerelease: Tommy Wiseau is working on converting the film to 3D for theatrical release in 2012. Oh hai 3rd dimension!
- Voodoo Shark: The drug dealer scene, which apparently exists only to give Johnny a gun, raises far more questions than it answers. Why does the adopted child of a millionaire banker who funds his every whim need to sell drugs to make ends meet? If the dealer's going to jail, why don't the police need his gun for evidence? Why the hell didn't Mark just get rid of it if they didn't? And why couldn't Johnny simply have had a gun, given his (presumed) ability to legally own one?
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Many plot threads are left dangling or are forgotten immediately after they're introduced:
- Lisa's mom casually mentions her cancer to her dismissive daughter early in the movie, but it is never mentioned again and the mom becomes preoccupied with other, more trivial matters.
- The drug subplot vanishes immediately after the scene ends, seemingly serving only to introduce the gun.
- The four main male characters all dress up in tuxedos to take wedding photos, but promptly abandon that notion to play a game of catch in the street.
- Peter finds out about Mark and Lisa's affair, but the only scene that Peter appears in after that is another pointless football scene, so nothing ever comes of it.
- Writer on Board: One could safely assume that Tommy Wiseau has not had great relations with the opposite sex. The Room is most likely his biased take on a real relationship gone sour.
- You Can Say That Again: In response to the "what a story, Mark!" line.
- You Need a Drink: "I don't drink, you know that!"
- You Owe Me: "I want to talk, right now. You owe me one anyway."
Ha ha ha, what a story, Tropers. Anyway, how is your sex life?